What a STRIKEFORCE Middleweight Tournament could mean for MMA

Posted: July 3, 2010 in Marketing, Strikeforce

Before my attention turns back to UFC 116, I thought I’d squeeze in a post about another major turn in MMA.

After rumor and speculation it looks like STRIKEFORCE has released middleweight champion Jake Shields.  Since Shields vs. Henderson all roads for Shields have turned to the UFC.  It will be interesting to see if he is signed and who his first opponent will be.

Now for STRIKEFORCE there is a potential to turn this loss of talent into a marketing bonanza.  There are two potential roads for STRIKEFORCE to take with its vacated middleweight championship:

1)      Take its two top contenders and have them battle it out for the title; or ,

2)      Host a middleweight tournament among a series of competitors for the gold.

Although both options promise excitement for fans, only the tournament offers new life for STRIKEFORCE.  The MMA company has certainly taken some lumps over the last few months.  The brawl that followed Shields vs. Henderson, the aggressive courtship of Shields by the UFC, the retirement of Frank Shamrock and the fall of Fedor to Werdum have certainly given STRIKEFORCE its fair share of headaches.  These could all be distance memories surpassed by new more positive ones that are created through a championship tournament.  To name just a few benefits a tournament would bring:

  • Expand the brand – If STRIKEFORCE ever wants to break out of the MMA ranks beyond the #2 slot it needs more mainstream exposure.  Yes, they may have a deal with CBS but they need to do more with it.  A tournament would allow for multiple nights on CBS followed by a potential PPV or Showtime finale.  More events = more fans.
  • Expand Fighter Presence – STRIKEFORCE has a number of great fighters but few fans can likely name more than a handful.  A tournament would give media and fans alike more reason to point the spotlight on the middleweight talent.
  • Exposure for Sponsors –Similar to raising the brand among fans, the increase in events could introduce more sponsors to STRIKEFORCE.  Right now, the only company I see associating with STRIKEFORCE is ROCKSTAR energy drink. (Maybe it’s the joint love of all caps names.)

I’m not sure who they would add to the tournament rankings, but somewhere along the brackets I’d love to see Cung Le and Jason “Mayhem” Miller face off.  Who do you think should be in the tournament?

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